Imbibing Mr. Boston: Brandy Alexander #1 & #2

An Alexander is one of the great old school drinks, and you can tell because it’s never gone out of fashion.  Still found on many cocktail menus today, there are two different versions included in the Mr. Boston 75th Anniversary Guide.  Using basically the same ingredients (brandy, cream, creme de cacao and nutmeg), there is enough of a variation that each one has a slightly different character.

#1 uses the following recipe:

0.75 oz brandy
0.75 oz dark creme de cacao
0.75 oz heavy cream
garnish with grated nutmeg

#2 uses this:

1 oz brandy
1 oz white creme de cacao
1 oz half & half
garnish with grated nutmeg

Preparations for both are the same.  Shake with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass.  Top with nutmeg.

The first one tasted like a slightly alcoholic milkshake.  The brandy was pretty much lost in the background, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great cocktail.  Using heavy cream gave it a slightly grainy quality due to the high fat content. Also, using dark creme de cacao gave it a pleasant coffee and cream appearance.

I preferred the second version because of it’s lighter and airier texture.  The amounts of each ingredient were brought up to a more standard level as well, giving it a more healthy looking volume in the glass.  The pure whiteness also was more visually stunning when the nutmeg was grated on top.  Don’t forget to use freshly grated nutmeg.  Avoid at all costs, pre-grated nutmeg bought in a jar.  It will entirely lack character and do nothing for your cocktail.

As with most cocktails, the origin of the nomenclature is up for debate.  The most popular theory is that it is named after Tsar Alexander II of Russia.  This fits in with the first appearance of the drink in print which was in Recipes for Mixed Drinks, published in 1917 by the head bartender of the Wallick House Hotel in Times Square, Hugo Ensslin.  However, Hugo’s version called for Old Bart gin.  The switch to cognac happened a few years later, most likely in London in the early 1920’s.  Interestingly enough, Hugo’s book was the last great American cocktail guide published before prohibition sent all of America’s bartenders packing.

Brandy Alexander No. 2

Brandy Alexander No. 1

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One thought on “Imbibing Mr. Boston: Brandy Alexander #1 & #2

  1. Pingback: GSN Alert: January 31st – National Brandy Alexander Day « Good Spirits News

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